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The Night of the Scarecrow has been described as a folk legend, a social documentary, a passion play, a musical tragi-comedy. It is the second feature directed by Brazilian singer-composer Sergio Ricardo. He shot the film entirely on location in Nova Jerusalem Pernambuco, the largest open air theatre in the world where, according to local traditions, the Passion of Christ is re-enacted annually.

The story is taken from the folk literature of North-eastern Brazil, and centres on a love triangle: the jagunco, or hired gunman, the vaqueiro or cowboy, and the camponesa or country girl. Each of the characters represents mythological figures: the jagunco symbolizes the power of the 'Colonel' boss and the forces of Darkness of the Dragon, while the vaqueiro stands for the strength of the people. The story is narrated by a wandering minstrel, the Scarecrow, and the film incorporates his kind of music and poetry within a dramatic development.

The Night of the Scarecrow is
set in the north-eastern badlands,
where there have been severe
droughts during the preceding
year. The area is barren and
exploited by absentee landlords.
The regional boss, Colonel Fragoso,
is considering selling his properties,
but the farmers organize a
resistance movement to try to keep
half of their land. A gunman,
Colonel Fragoso's right-hand man,
accepts a commission to kill the
leaders of the resistance. The
conflict between the assassin and
the leading cow-hand is intensified
by the struggle between them for
the love of Maria do Grotao.